Hi, my name is Dani and I am an OBB intern at Local 2 in San Francisco. This summer I have been helping Unite Here and the workers at the HEI-operated Le Meridien Hotel. Through meeting with workers I have learned about the differences between unionized and non-union hotels, and what it is like to work for a company that uses intimidation, harassment and other manipulative tactics to exploit the labor of these hard-working people.
In one situation, a manager at the hotel had refused to pool tips with the bussers and was pocketing most of the tips that the customers paid. Early one Saturday morning we leafleted customers outside of the hotel, informing them of this egregious activity. The manager came out and unknowingly the other intern who was with us leafleted him asking: “Sir, did you know a manager at this hotel is taking money from his employees?” The manager turned red, walked back inside of the hotel and called the cops. They arrested the three of us but only handcuffed me for some unknown reason. The next day the manager announced he was leaving.
Ousting this manager was a small victory and yet an important moment for Local 2. After we were arrested I met with Baltazar, who works as a busser. Only after we spoke did I come to understand what our collective struggle is about. He articulated for me the most egregious crimes of this manager and the hotel in general. I don’t think I realized how bad working conditions in hotels could be until I took the opportunity to listen to these workers.
– Dani, 2012 Summer Organizer, San Francisco